Welcome to Home Shalom!

Welcome to Home Shalom and Shalom Farm. We pray your visit here be blessed. We are learning to walk in the Ways (Torah) of our Father YHWH and follow Y'shua, His Messiah until He returns to "set things straight". We call it a "Messi-Life". Our walk is neither tidy nor perfect, but it is filled with passion, devotion and desire to serve our King. We are learning to be humble servants, and to be good stewards of the things that He has entrusted to us: His Word, our marriage, our children, our family, our community, our health, and our farm. Hitch your horse and stay a while--our door is always open!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Winter Garden

I am so very excited to share with you a little peek into our "Winter Garden".  It has been sown directly from seed that was planted in the last couple of days in October and we covered it with  homemade hoop houses.  We have collards, kale, lettuce, swiss chard, spinach, sweet peas, and a few beets.  This was an experiment for us and we are SO very pleased with the results. I am hooked.  I actually prefer this season of gardening over the traditional summer garden! (No sweat, much fewer bugs and weeds!)  Rich greens are a delicious, nutrient dense food, that we can not get enough of! Since my kids have been raised on them, they love them.  We have had to "pace ourselves" so we don't over harvest our greens.  We didn't know how much to plant or what to expect, but now we have a better idea for next year.  The thing that is great about greens, is you can just clip off the plants and partially harvest it by taking the largest leaves and it just keep growing for you! Next year...LOOK OUT, because I am going to get serious about what we plant! I want to have enough to juice (a lot)  and sell or share!  I have visions of cabbage, broccoli, beets, leeks and greens dancing in my head!  I used to buy my greens from a bulk organic wholesaler (for $50-70 a case - YIKES), or get  from our local health food store owner's personal green house, but those days are quickly becoming a thing of the past!  (YES!  It is so satisfying and delicious to grow your own food! )

Here is a short video tour of the hoop houses we made and how they work:

All the covered rows you see in the video are not growing things.  We tried to use up some old seed and much of it did not "take".  Here are a few peeks under the plastic.  The photos were taken on December 18th.  Our weather has been typical for TN at night (zone 6 planting).  It is rather flippant, cycling between cold and not so cold. Wet and not so wet.  Gray days and sunning days.  You never quite know what you will get.  The nights usually freeze and frost is common in the morning (at least).  One of the things that we are susceptible to here on our farm, is high winds. Storms blow through all year long and when we see them coming we have be sure that we "batten down the hatches" before it hits or will get things sent in the far away fields.  (It has happened!  I have chased and tried to hold down a portable shed,( in the rain) that we THOUGHT was staked well enough.  I thought I was going to Kansas! I couldn't stop her..I let it go and had to retrieve it from a far off barbed wire fence that it got caught on, after the storm.) We have had a really could test since these row covers were installed and they passed the test with gleaming colors!  We tired miscellaneous clamps to hold the tarp on at first and they did not ever come close to passing the test. Then we found some wonderful clamps (that are linked in the supply list below).  They get 4 stars - we  are set! We expect it to get colder in Jan and February.  I hope to update this post or link another then.

 You may notice a difference in the spinach that is in the video and the spinach in this picture.  It is the same bed and it just keeps coming!  (YES!)

 Low Bush Cascadian Sweet Peas are pictured above.
 I think these take a really long time to bear their peas when done over the winter...
so we watch and we wait...

 Swiss Chard (We let it go a little long so we harvested the whole bed after this photo was taken.) It looks a little droopy but we had some for lunch and it was delish!  This is our buggiest bed.  Not sure.  Does anyone have any idea?

We were originally inspired by Eliot Coleman's 4 Season Harvest.  He does this up in New England and I figured if he could, there is no excuse for us down here in TN!  He has also authored helpful resources hat I have read, called The New Organic Grower and the Winter Harvest Handbook.   I have posted an item of his on my 'wish list' that I have not had a chance to preview yet, his DVD Year Round Production. It was a workshop that he did on 2 DVD's.  It's an investment, but it is not likely I will be able to go to one in person any time soon..so it think it would be worth it! (In due time, in due time!  I know it will be fabulous.)  

I highly recommend this method and winter gardening. The secret is the covering.  This protects your cold hardy plants from frost and freezing.  Our hoops might be a little taller than need be, but we wanted our row covers to double as a our seed starting green houses for spring.  We are optimistic and hoping we will need the height for some of those plants.  (We have not had large success in starting our spring/summer garden from seed - to our satisfactions - yet.  Maybe next year is "our year".)

Most supplies can be purchased at your local hardware supply store.  Here is the supply list that covers our 4ft wide Winter Garden beds of various lengths:
  • PVC Clamps :  3-4 per bar
  • 1" PVC pipe, cut into 2ft lengths and driven into the ground about 4ft apart. 
  • 1/2" PVC pipe cut to 80" lengths (This left 40" of waste on each 10 ft pole purchased.  You could make your pact wider or try to make your row higher, but we saw not need for the extra plastic needed to do that or the increase possibility for the wind catch it.)
  • We used 8 mil plastic cut into strips 7ft wide  for our 4 ft wide beds.  We added 7 feet to the length of the bed length for the rows to allow for coverage on the ends to be fully enclosed.
I hope you are inspired!

This post has been shared at Simple Lives Thursday.


Andi said...

Are you kidding me! That is so wonderful and I am so so inspired! Great detail and sharing, the list is very helpful! Great job guys!

Humble wife said...

I was told to put pennies around the plants. Maybe that will help your chard.

Your winter garden is lovely!


Enid said...

Great job guys,!!